Hill County cotton mill begins production
On this day in 1901, the Itasca Cotton Manufacturing Company processed its first 100 bales of cotton. Previously, cotton grown in Hill County had to be shipped to the Gulf Coast and then to the eastern United States for processing. The ICMC mill was a vertical operation that processed raw cotton by dyeing, spinning, and weaving it into finished fabrics. For the first fourteen years the company's fortunes fluctuated widely. World War I, however, brought solvency to the company by generating a great need for cotton duck, used to make army tents. The mill continued to prosper until the Great Depression, during which it closed for a while. By 1940, however, ICMC was in full-time operation again, producing a wide variety of clothing fabrics in addition to duck and sheeting. During World War II the company was again converted to making duck for the government and operated day and night. After the war the growth of labor unions and the synthetic fiber industry beset the mill. The plant was shut down in 1959 and the company finally dissolved in 1967. By that time farming in the area had become much more diversified, and the relatively small mill could not compete with larger mills.